Far away from the backpackers, yoga retreats and call centres modern India is famous for, there is another India – and it is ready for conflict
“All wars in history were miscalculated. With the sort of weapons we both have, can we afford any miscalculation?” Those were Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan’s words to India yesterday.
While the world’s attention was focused on nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, one of the oldest and most unpredictable nuclear relationships has flared up: India and Pakistan. India’s recent airstrikes deep inside Pakistani territory, and Pakistan’s downing of Indian fighter jets, may become the subcontinent’s “Archduke Ferdinand” moment.
This is particularly dangerous because both countries have domestic audiences that are thirsty for blood. While many of Pakistan’s Islamists will be ready for holy war against the Hindu state, Narendra Modi’s government – long affiliated to the far-right (and formerly outlawed) RSS paramilitary group – may be ready to escalate the conflict, against a backdrop of rising anti-Muslim hate across India.